Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's what's inside that counts

Scene: Yesterday evening at the neighborhood Pharmaca "integrative pharmacy," a store for ordinary prescriptions, cotton swabs, toothpaste, sundries, etc. as well as "alternative" tinctures, herbs, and curatives/restoratives with varying degrees of dubious woo.

Situation: Accompanying Elizabeth on a quick pick-up before checking out a new restaurant that just opened up the street. While Elizabeth is getting what she needs, I wait near the book sales wall. (The book on how to time-travel with your mind is certainly eye-catching.) Nearby is Sales Rep Guy sitting behind a table, on which stand a dozen dark green bottles labeled "Vege"-something, plus a Brita pitcher and little paper cups of a liquid that's likewise the striking mossy green of compost or a forest floor. I casually glance at the wares. The Sales Rep Guy — pleasant, personable — goes into his sales pitch.

Sales Rep Guy: "Do you take a multivitamin?"

Me: "Every day."

Guy: "Have you noticed that your pee is yellow?"

Me: [pause] "Traditionally, yes."

Guy: "That's because your body doesn't fully absorb vitamins in pill form. But this powder drink mix is fully absorbed by your body, giving you all the vitamins you lose with pills. Here, try some."

Me, taking a little paper cup, sipping: "It's exactly like licking a shag carpet."

It is an impulse response, and the fact that my memory yanked it from the Steve Martin movie L.A. Story doesn't mean I'm not sincere. But I'm not out to hurt the guy's feelings — after all, he's a nice fellow just doing his job, and as far as I know he's the inventor, CEO, sole shareholder, and sincere advocate of "Vege"-something, Inc.

Me (after the initial unhappy flavor jolt passes): "Rather, it's so much like eating real raw vegetables that drinking it in a watery form is alarming my brain." We share a small laugh at this and he seems pleased by the "real raw vegetables" observation. Whew, I smoothed over that just fine.

Guy: "It's loaded with millions of probiotics, live micro-organisms that inhabit our gut."

Me: "Um..."

Guy: "If your colonic ecology isn't in balance, you're not healthy."

Me: "Like the millions of single-cell creatures in a spoonful of pond water."

Guy: "Sure!" Smiles.

Me: "So this is like me eating a cubic square foot of my back yard."

Guy: "That's it." Beams. "The bacteria in your gut outnumber the cells in your body ten to one."

Me: "As they say, we're only ten percent human and ninety percent parasitical microscopic flora and fauna."

Guy: "Yep!"

Me: "You really need to work on your marketing points."

Music: John Barnes Chance, Incantation and Dance
Near at hand: Glass paperweight with Saturn inside